I love the seasons of the church and the rhythms that come with them. There’s something profoundly beautiful to me about setting apart time to wait, to slow down, to fast, to anticipate; it’s only made more beautiful in knowing that this discipline connects me to others across the world and across history. None of these disciplines come naturally to me, and all require a measure of sacrifice. They run counter to the pervasive values of our culture that honor busyness and individuality and immediate gratification. But to me, that makes these seasons all the more dear.
Traditionally, we think of longing associated with Advent. Advent is, after all, the time when we look back to the saints that came before us and remember that they faithfully (or less than faithfully) waited year after year and generation after generation for the promised to be fulfilled. And we remember that we too are waiting for full fulfillment. But Lent is also about waiting, about longing. In Lent, we traditionally observe some form of fasting, reminding ourselves of our full and total dependence on God – the season starts with the reminder that we are dust and headed back to dust. Rather grim. But in Lend, we read the old stories of the insufficient kings and weak prophets, knowing that we too, are unable to redeem ourselves; incapable of turning this dust into anything more than dust.
But underneath this somber reality is a secret: we know the end of the story. Christ is risen! Our longings are met in him and our weakness is fulfilled in him. And so we wait for the final day when he will return and all will be right and restored and whole.
But it’s in HOPE that we wait. Shauna Niequist explains it this way:
“To choose to celebrate in the world we live in right now may seem irresponsible. It might seem frivolous, like cotton candy and charm bracelets. But I believe it is a serious undertaking, and one that has the potential to return us to our best selves and deliver us back to the men and women God created us to be, people who choose to see the best, believe the best, year for the best. Through that longing…we are changed and inspired and ennobled, able to see the handwriting of a holy God where another person just sees the same old tired streets and sidewalks.
The world is inviting us to get up and dance to the music that’s been playing since the beginning of time, if you bend all the way down and put your ear to the group to listen to it.”
He is risen! Come join the dance.